Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Striking Keyword Gold
Let's say you're looking for a doctor. Are you going to go online and search for the keyword: "Doctor" Doubtful. You'll probably go online and search for doctor + internal medicine + San Diego, meaning that you want to find a doctor in your specific area and for your focused needs. If, as the doctor, you used the keyword "doctor" you'd end up with a mishmash of traffic to your site and, if you were using these keywords for articles or press releases, neither of those would bring up much in the search engines.
The long tail has really forced us to dig further into our markets than ever before. In fact, research has shown that regardless of the type of search someone is conducting, a consumer who uses focused, finite language is much more likely to buy than someone who does a search based on "gut feel" words. Let me give you an example. Let's say you're looking for a red car; you want a new car and it has to be red. On a fluke you think: "Hey, Lexus makes a nice ride, let me see what comes up when I do a quick search." So you plug in the keywords: red + Lexus, what do you find? A hodgepodge of sites related to everything from the Lexus that someone is trying to sell on eBay to the guy so in love with his car he's created a MySpace page about it. Chances are it doesn't really matter because you weren't that interested in the red car to begin with. But if you search on more finite terms, let's say red + Lexus + 4WD + sunroof, now we're talking a consumer who is 95% closer to a buy than the guy Googling "red + Lexus." In order for you to find your audience in the maze of traffic and the enormity of messages online, you'll need to get very, very focused.
Getting clear, getting focused
So how can you get focused? Well first, why not try surveying your customers or readers? Ask them to fill in a quick little survey and see what search terms come to mind when they think of your book, message, or product (to get more "buy in" to this survey, offer them a freebie if they do it).
Other ways to gain access to keywords are keyword search tools like Wordtracker and Overture. Both of these sites have a learning curve and Wordtracker does have a monthly fee (but if you have all your data together they offer a free one-day trial that might get you started). But buyer beware! According to AME's keyword expert, Susan Gilbert: "If you go to http://inventory.overture.com and type in your keyword, you will get the results from search in Yahoo for that term only for the prior month. However, these numbers are not accurate. (Every time someone types a keyword into Yahoo for SEO purposes, it counts as a search). Search numbers are only part of the equation, however. You have to evaluate the "results" aspect (how many pages of information are available in that search engine for that term). It's finding the perfect relationship between a keyword that has enough searches with low(er) competition that will tell you the best keyword terms for your purpose."
As you're navigating through a site like Overture, the key is to look for supply vs. demand. Ideally you want a keyword that's being searched on that doesn't have a ton of supply. Let's take the diet industry as an example. If you're trying to promote your message of diet and healthy living, using the word "diet" in your article, press release or web site keywords probably won't get you much ranking. Why? Well, everyone in this market is using this same word, but if you dig even further into this market you'll find that the search term: "Lose weight fast" is getting a lot of searches but very few returns. When that's the case, those are the keywords you want to zero in on.
So how do you know if your keywords are working? Test them. You'll see very quickly if they're working or if they're too general to matter. Sometimes the only way you can find out is if you test, test, test. Web 2.0 strategies are always growing, building and changing. And speaking of changing, you might wonder how long keywords will last. Well, that depends. According to Gilbert: "Keywords could work for months or years. There's no telling because the WWW is constantly filled with new sites and new information. Use the keywords immediately, and for as long as you are getting results."
Once you finalize your keywords you'll want to use them, but not overuse them. I'd recommend using your keywords in the article or press release title, then once in the first paragraph and once in the last paragraph. This will tie in your words nicely without overusing them.
The key with keywords is to understand that the more focused you can get, the better your results will be. Yes, it's a lot of work but the benefits can be enormous, and like anything on the 'Net, it's growing and changing and if you can adapt and learn, you can grow your campaigns and your success!
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